Our Test-Optional Policy

SAT and ACT scores are not required for students applying for full-time undergraduate admission. Students who do not submit standardized test scores will be required to submit an additional teacher recommendation or personal essay.

Our decision to become test-optional followed extensive discussions about the best strategies for ensuring that prospective students are evaluated using criteria that truly reflect their academic achievements and potential for success at Loyola. The policy stemmed from the work of a campus task force, which reviewed internal and external research on the validity of standardized test scores in predicting success in college-level work, and also examined test-optional admission policies at a variety of other colleges and universities. Loyola continues a national trend in which a number of other prestigious colleges and universities have enacted test-optional policies, including the College of the Holy Cross, Providence College, and Wake Forest University.

“Loyola’s Jesuit tradition inspires us to evaluate the whole person when considering the applications of prospective students,” said Loyola’s president, Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J. “High standardized test scores, while a laudable accomplishment, tell you far less about a person’s talents and potential to succeed in college than course selection, grades earned, personal statements, and extracurricular involvement and achievement. We believe this approach will allow us to become a more inclusive university that recognizes more fully the great depth and breadth of gifts and experiences our prospective students could bring to our community.”

Many educational leaders believe that socio-economic and cultural factors have a significant influence on SAT and other standardized test scores, and that de-emphasizing these scores enables colleges and universities to build a more diverse student body. At Loyola, enhancing the geographic, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity of the students who apply and enroll remains a key priority, one which is inherent in its Jesuit heritage.

“When prospective students ask me about their chances for admission, I tell them that our admission process is very holistic, that we consider their entire academic portfolio, with the greatest emphasis on their grades and the rigor of the courses they’ve chosen, as well as extracurricular activities, character traits, interests and so on,” said Elena D. Hicks, dean of undergraduate admission. “But too often, no matter how outstanding a student’s grades and other credentials, they ask only if their standardized test scores are high enough. I’ve always been concerned about whether many students for whom Loyola would be a good fit academically and personally just assume they aren’t good candidates for admission simply because their test scores aren’t as high as they would like. I hope this important policy change helps alleviate the unnecessary focus on standardized test scores that has become so prominent in the admission process.”

Students who believe their SAT scores represent a strong, positive component of their academic portfolio may still submit them as a core element of their application package. “We recognize that some students believe their standardized test scores are reflective of who they truly are and the caliber of work they are able to do in college,” said Hicks. “These students should certainly feel welcome to include these scores in their application package. But for others, who feel their SAT or ACT scores do not accurately represent an otherwise exceptional academic record, we believe a challenging high school curriculum and their strong performance in those classes give us the information we need to make a fair assessment of the contributions they would bring to Loyola.”

Students who opt not to submit standardized test scores may also be evaluated for acceptance into Loyola’s honors program. “In honors admission, it is important to maintain flexibility in considering promising students from varying backgrounds,” said Nicholas Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of English, director of film studies, and a member of the committee that developed the test-optional policy. “Standardized test scores can be informative as a single component of the admission process, but are not always predictive of students’ performance in our honors curriculum.”

Loyola’s test-optional policy is a four-year pilot project, beginning with the fall of 2010. At the end of this period, the University will assess the policy’s impact and determine whether to implement it permanently.

Test-optional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

May I submit my test scores if I would like to? 
Students who believe their SAT scores represent a strong, positive component of their academic portfolio may still submit them as a core element of their application package.

Will academic scholarships be a part of the test-optional policy? 
Yes, SAT and ACT scores will not be required for students who are competing for academic merit-based scholarships.

Will transfer students need to provide standardized test scores? 
Transfer students who apply to Loyola do not need to provide SAT, SAT subject tests, or ACT scores unless they choose to do so.

Will international students need to provide standardized test scores? 
International students who apply to Loyola do not need to provide SAT, SAT subject tests, or ACT scores unless they choose to do so. However, if English is not the student's native language, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score is required.